Insomnia 1997

Posted: September 30, 2011 in films, Norway, Scandinavia

The other night I recorded the original 1997 Norwegian version of Insomnia showing on Sky Arts at around midnight, and watched it at a more agreeable time. I will take the risk of being classified as an Art channel snob, or one of the chattering classes, and  say that I thought it was superior to director Christopher Nolan’s 2002 version. The last Nolan film I watched was the full of brilliant computer generated dream sequences blockbuster Inception, and perhaps Insomnia was too simple and spare a story for a Hollywood style treatment.

The original Norwegian Insomnia 1997 directed by Erik Skjoldbjaerg, and written by him and Nikolaj Frobenius, starred the superb actor Stellan Skarsgard as Swedish cop Jonas Engstrom, sent to Northern Norway to solve the murder of a young girl. The other excellent but unknown to me actors helped create a believable atmosphere of tension as Engstrom, unable to sleep in the permanent light of the Arctic summer, begins to lose his grip on reality after a tragic incident in the fog.

Skarsgard has been in numerous movies but I remember him as Gregor in the gripping thriller Ronin, with Robert De Niro and Jean Reno. Perhaps that is why I enjoyed the original better than the 2002 remake, which starred Al Pacino and Robin Williams. To me Robin Williams will always be Patch Adams, and I can never accept him as a villain. 

Maybe I am just quirky always liking the original creation [despite the sub-titles] over any rehashed version. 

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Comments
  1. Norman – If you’re quirky, then I am, too. I almost always like original versions of movies better than I do re-makes. And it’s funny; I find it hard to see Robin Williams as villain, too. In fact, there’s only one other film I can think of in which he plays a “bad guy,” although there may be others. That was called One-Hour Photo, and the synopsis put me off so I never saw it; therefore I have no idea if it was good. It certainly didn’t look watchable to me…

  2. I saw the 2002 version and didn’t realize it was a remake — excuse me while I go look for the original!

  3. kathy d. says:

    I saw the original version that you like. I liked it, but have to rewatch it, so I catch subtleties.
    Robin Williams is on TV talk shows over here a lot, doing manic, but hilarious monologues or going off in conversations. That’s how I think of him. He did a very funny riff about Arnold Schwazenegger’s father’s Nazi past that was politically on target.

  4. Norman says:

    I think from memory Eric Ambler’s brilliant book the Mask of Dimitrios [A Coffin for Dimitrios] was made into a film with Peter Lorre as the hero. The film was ruined for me because Lorre and Sydney Greenstreet were the perfect villains in The Maltese Falcons and I could not readjust to Lorre not being a nasty.

  5. Maxine says:

    I never worked up the energy to record this in the end, but clearly should have done! Nudge me when it is next on, won’t you, Norman? thanks!

  6. Norman says:

    Maxine, I will give you an electronic nudge when I spot it.

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